Friday, December 16, 2011

I went to a garden party…

So yep, here I am after missing a week's blogging, quoting Ricky Nelson songs. While Ricky's heyday was a bit before my time, I like a couple of his songs. Garden Party's my favorite. One of the reasons? The line "you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself." So true.

I think people in general (most of us anyway) are hardwired to want to make others happy and in turn, to receive the glow of praise. It's nice to be liked! To be told…"oh you're so creative…such a good writer…come up with such sexy stuff…" And you bask in that for a few days until the next thing you know, the very same piece elicits the opposite reaction. Not only is it not enjoyed, somehow the themes you were going for, the messages you'd tried to convey were misconstrued. If something doesn't come across, that means somewhere you failed to convey the message. But if some people got it just fine, you wonder how to approach that topic the next time…or if even to approach it at all. Then finally you reach the acceptance stage, which often is tinged with a bit of Frank Sinatra for me: "I'll do it my way." Yes, I think in song lyrics. I'd live in a song if I could!

I've never been a writer who can stay near the median. Some authors are content to write beautiful stories that while they are emotional and lovely, don't take chances. I know of writers who do that, and the fact that they don't go beyond certain parameters is part of why I always feel comfortable picking up their books. Like my favorite peanut butter cups, the batch may change a little but the taste essentially remains the same. That's why I like them and seek them out! As writers, we're advised to build our brand. That gets harder to do when you follow your muse where she takes you…regardless of knowing who'll be behind you when you take the trip. That's me. I can't just stay safe and tinker with the universally acceptable mix of romance to sex to plot, if there is such a thing anyway. What's universally accepted? Nothing. And a book some adore will be the same one people hate.

What's the point of this post? Mainly to reaffirm for me and all of you that it's okay to be just who you are. Maybe you're a writer or a reader or a crafter or a welder or a mom. Whoever you are, you're good. You're different and some may not get you or what you do. They may make you think you screwed up or could have done something better. That doesn't mean you don't have merit. That doesn't mean what you've done is a mistake. You might've overlooked something vital or not trusted your gut. It's all trial and error. You listen and you move to the next thing and you grow. You try harder and you improve. But most importantly, you keep being you, just as you are. And you look in the mirror and know that there's one thing you've done perfectly, something else no one else on this planet can - you're you, exactly the way you are. It doesn't mean you don't strive to get to the next level, but it also doesn't mean you need to feel shame for following your path, whatever that may be.

Has there been a time recently where you questioned yourself or a choice you made? How did you handle it?

And if that doesn't apply to you, tell me something fun you're doing this weekend! It's the time of year for fun, right? Hope you're all having a great holiday season!


Eileen said...

I recently went through a crisis of I hate my job and should I go find another. I got through it by taking a huge breath and having a margarita. Then I started telling myself to take one day at a time because it all is so overwhelming if you can't change the things that are outstanding. It got me through it thank goodness.
This weekend is baking cookies and meeting with a book club on Sunday. we'll eat and drink and talk. Looking forward to it.

Taryn Elliott said...

What a great post. And
I think all of us, especially writers, go through this deep look at our work thing. I'm still a newbie to the publishing world, but I've been writing for a damn long time.
You've always been my hero when it comes to pushing boundaries. It makes me want to do the same.

It's so easy to stay safe and write the stories you know will work. It's all in the execution in the end--you can make any story special if you love it enough--but there's also digging deeper for a different spin on things.

And that's what you do.

Great post.

And very much in line for me--I'm transitioning right now. Getting into the writer deal, but I do have to figure out what kind of job I'm going to do to make a living. It takes a long time to make a living as an author. Especially when you're waiting 6 months even to see your edits for a manuscript. 'Tis not a quick turnaround when you're a newbie.

Harlie Williams said...

Well said Cari and you're right. You can only please yourself. As my life is taking a turn right now, I need to remember that.

Thanks for the reminder.


Mia Watts said...

I have a constant inner battle to please others. Most notable, my family. But here's the thing: as much as they love me (and I'm sure that in their judgmentalism the do.) they will never approve of what I do.

Jen/Abigail recently said to me: "It's your family and your home. If they aren't paying the bills, then fuck their opinion. You're an adult." Which is totally paraphrased, but meant a lot to me.

Oh yeah, Jen? That meant a lot to me. :)

Jenny Trout said...

I'm very much one of those "go where your interest leads you" writers. And yes, much of the time, I'll get frustrating reviews, like people will read my Blood Ties series and say, "Carrie is such a weak heroine, I can't stand weak heroines," but then you look at their other reviews, for books with legit weak heroines, and they LOVE them. Or, I'll be grinding my teeth over a review that says they didn't like my book because vampires are soooooo tired and overdone, but they're practically fellating another author over her vampire book in the very next post, talking about how much they love vampires and the genre will never die. But I think if I tried to write a book that would please some of these readers, I wouldn't be pleased with myself. And in the end, I'm having a good time, and that's all I really care about. If I wanted to please people, I'd be in customer service. NEVER AGAIN THOSE HELL TIMES!

Molly Daniels said...

AMEN Cari:)

I'm also a people pleaser, and nearly fell over in shock on Monday. My mom, who earlier didn't understand my need to put certain words and actions in my Kenzie books, piped up when I asked our server if she liked to read, and offered her my card.

"If you like sexy and romantic books, then you'll really enjoy hers!" endorsement from my MOTHER, who recently told me she enjoyed my stories but 'they spent too much time in the bedroom'!

Sasha said...

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